A leading characteristic of depression is a persistent sense of apathy, as if nothing you do matters and there is no joy in your life. While occasionally experiencing some level of apathy might not be cause for concern, ongoing sadness and an inability to take pleasure in things could signify that you have major depressive disorder. If you feel empty and unfulfilled, it’s time to pinpoint the source of these challenging emotions and seek depression treatment.
What Are the Warning Signs of Apathy?
Apathy, also called anhedonia, includes an inability to feel happy or motivated. To outside observers, it may look like you are lazy, disinterested or passive.
- Feeling indifferent to situations others might react strongly to
- Neglecting your work, school or family responsibilities, even if there are negative repercussions
- Ignoring self-care, hygiene, diet, exercise or healthy sleeping habits
- Difficulty starting or finishing everyday tasks
- Little to no interest or engagement in other people’s lives
- Lack of motivation to complete goals or change your lifestyle, even if you know they would benefit you
- Lost interest in previously enjoyable hobbies
- Fatigue and low energy
What Causes Anhedonia?
If you have persistent negativity and a lack of enthusiasm for no apparent reason, you may wonder what is robbing you of your happiness. Since apathy is a side effect of some antidepressants and antipsychotics, you may want to talk to your doctor about adjusting your medications if you are already receiving mental health treatment.
Your chances of developing anhedonia may be higher if depression or schizophrenia run in your family. Other risk factors include:
- Substance abuse
- Chronic stress and anxiety
- A history of abuse or neglect
- A severe illness that impacts your quality of life
- An eating disorder
Apathy and Depression Diagnosis and Treatment
If it’s been a long time since you felt happy, motivated or fulfilled, seek a diagnosis so you can begin an effective treatment plan. To rule out a medical cause of your symptoms, your primary care provider should be your first appointment. If they don’t find any health issues, your next step should be to see a mental health professional. Apathy caused by depression may respond well to a combination of talk therapy and prescription medication.
You can also try making specific lifestyle changes to improve your mental health. For example, spending time outside, volunteering and eating a balanced diet are all-natural, drug-free ways to boost your mood.
Of course, since apathy and depression affect everyone differently, there is no immediate remedy. It might take some trial and error to find a regimen that gets you back on an even keel. However, by being patient and keeping an open mind, you can manage depression symptoms, regain your happiness and begin working to reclaim your life.
How to Get Help for Your Mental Health
Depression frequently occurs alongside substance use disorders – experts call this a dual diagnosis. People may drink or use drugs to find temporary relief from their inner turmoil, then discover it is too challenging to quit the habit without help. Apathy can also give you a mistaken belief that you don’t deserve to feel better.
At Pillars Recovery, we created our California treatment centers as a retreat where young men and women can begin healing from addiction. Our team members have all found the freedom that comes with long-term, successful recovery, and we want to make that liberation a reality for you, too. Contact us to verify your insurance coverage and learn more about our programming.